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HomeIllinois NewsRepublicans give up on Cook County; party officials advocate non-partisan elections

Republicans give up on Cook County; party officials advocate non-partisan elections



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COOK COUNTY – It's just too hard to get Republicans elected in Democrat-dominated Cook County and Chicago, so there's an effort to throw in the towel and wipe out partisan labels in the county's elections. 

At least that's what it sounds like Cook County GOP Chairman Sean Morrison is pushing to happen in the state's largest county – with the help of IL GOP Governor Rauner. 

Morrison – who also serves on the Cook County Board as one its few Republicans – is asking for help for a petition drive to "get a binding referendum question on the ballot that would make elections for all Cook County countywide offices non-partisan."


Sean Morrison

"This initiative, if we are successful, will have a longstanding impact on our ability to run candidates countywide," Morrison wrote to the Palos Township GOP Friday.

Indeed. Morrison was unable to get candidates to run in Cook County's countywide races this time around. Democrats are running unopposed – making the Republican platform and its public policy positions unavailable for Republicans living in the county. 

Skeptical Republicans are telling Illinois Review that they think the effort is a waste of time and resources. Chairman Morrison and the Rauner campaign evidently came up with this idea on their own because Cook County committeemen were not asked to vote on the proposal and overall there was not open discussion of any kind. 

When asked about it, Illinois Review received no response from the effort's organizer and Rauner campaign employee Shaun McCabe. McCabe has been charged with gathering at least 107,000 signatures by August 6 – a month away.

Even Morrison admits on his appeal for help,"…This is going to be an extremely heavy lift."

Those that he needs to help circulate petitions are shaking their heads.

"This is a Sean Morrison thing," one Cook County Republican told IR, on condition of not being named. "This is further erosion of the Republican brand. It's an effort by people who fundamentally don't believe Republicans have anything to sell to the voters."

The non-partisan ballot initiative for Cook County would emulate California's open primary setup. Political parties that have given up – as the Republicans in California have for the most part – advocate "non-partisan" elections.

The talking points Morrison promotes for non-partisan elections are:

  • We need to get partisan politics out of Cook County government.
  • County government is supposed to the serve the people it represents, not partisan political insiders.
  • Nonpartisan elections allow voters to fairly consider the issues and choose officials in government who represent their interests, not a political party’s.
  • Candidates and policies should be judged on their merits, not on whether they have Republican or Democrat listed next them.
  • To root out the corruption and cronyism that has dominated Cook County government for decades, all elected positions should be made nonpartisan.
  • The drive for nonpartisan elections in Cook County complements the push for term limits on all elected officials in state government
  • Every level of government in Illinois needs to be cleaned up.
  • At a time when government at all levels seems riddled with dysfunction, Cook County can make a clean break with business as usual and take partisanship out of the way we choose our county leaders.
  • It’s a commonsense solution that will benefit every Cook County resident and empower voters over the political machine.
  • More than forty years of one party rule has taken a fiscal toll on Cook County residents, and this is our opportunity to level the playing field.

Republicans in Cook County will be setting the path for other party-controlled electoral regions that could eventually end up with the whole state being non-partisan, as California is. 


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  1. Why couldn’t they get any one to run against Preckwinkle?
    Just to be on the ballot as a protest vote if nothing else?
    Maybe a young person to set them up as a future leader of the GOP in Cook County?

  2. You could run in Democratic primaries too…
    Non-partisan elections don’t guarantee that elected offices aren’t political. I live in the suburbs and conservatives are rarely elected in odd-year elections.
    Morrison should have at least done this push on the DL, instead of allowing his name to be attached to it. Now you know it has no chance of passing because people will go, “Look, this is being pushed by that Republican guy! No thanks.”
    Talk about clueless.

  3. This is why the Illinois republican party is dead in Illinois. Between the nutjobs like Peter Breen and Jeanne Ives, and idiot leadership. The Republican Party in Illinois dead.

  4. Am I the only one who remembers that prior to 1980, the Illinois State Legislature had cumulative voting? With that 1 State Senator would be elected, along with 3 state representatives in each legislative district.
    That would mean that in each Republican district, there would be 2 Republican State Reps. and at least 1 Dem.
    And in Democrat districts, there would be 2 Democrat state reps., but at least 1 Repub.
    That’s because the minority party voters in each district could “bullet vote” for the 1 in their party.
    The state legislative cumulative voting system was eliminated in 1980. Since then, the Democrats have amassed a supermajority in both chambers. And the Republican label has become irrelevant in many parts of the state.
    So is this the same folly that RINO Morrison wants to re-enact on the Cook County level?
    What exactly has been going on here?

  5. Cook County should separate from Chicago. Give Chicago Stroger Hospital and Cook County jail….it’s all Chicagoan’s that utilize them…not suburban Cook.
    In the discussion to consolidate units of government; here’s a better idea to expand by one.!

  6. The reason Republicans cannot get elected is Illinois is very simple. Illinois is a state where the vast majority of the voters are welfare tarts in one form or other. Policemen, firemen, teachers, municipal workers, state workers, private sector union workers, are all forms of welfare tarts who feed off the public. They out number decent human beings by wide margin in this state. The are all united by one thing: greed.
    So unless Sean Morris has some magic way to change the literal economics or demographics of the situation, you are going to continue to have Democrats elected. The schools are turning out more and more Democrats every generation and the state is importing low income refugees and illegal aliens in droves.
    Why should anyone run in Cook County as a Republican? So they can feed the ego of people like Sean Morrison? Running for office is hard work and the reality is the payoff is only going to be ego stroking. Illinois course is set and nothing other than bankruptcy is going to alter it. Until then it is full steam ahead headless of the pile of rocks it is aiming for called fiscal insolvency.
    Talented people have better things to do (like planning how they are getting out of the state)with their time then running for offices where the only agenda that will be implemented is the democratic one. Well unless of course their motivation is to join the piglets suckling off the taxpayer.

  7. This would be suicide. California has these, and they’re largely responsible for their recent nosedive to the left, as I’ve heard–often no Republicans make the cut for runoffs even. We’d be better off running write-in campaigns, as long as people are educated to only write in a registered name.

  8. Good point.
    In the 1983 Chicago mayoral election, there still were D and R lines on the Chicago municipal ballot.
    And when the Dems nominated Harold Washington, it created a huge rift in their party. And the Republican mayoral candidate, state Rep. Bernard Epton came within a hairsbreadth of being elected mayor of Chicago.
    That scared the living daylights out of the Chicago democrats and they pushed thru a “non-partisan” election system – which led to the complete irrelevance of the Chicago GOP that we see today.
    Doesn’t anyone ever learn from the past?

  9. The is no such thing as a “non-partisan election.”
    If a person isn’t “partisan” about some issue, he wouldn’t bother to run for an office.
    Most people are too involved in their daily lives to want even minor political responsibilities. The difficulty in getting enough precinct committeemen is evidence of that.

  10. The Republican legislature (1995-1997) pushed through the changes in Chicago municipals elections and also eliminated straight ticket voting.
    None of the legislation empowered the Republicans as planned. It turned out that the Democrats had voters who could be instructed to vote entire ballots while Republicans started skipping lower ballot races when not permitted to cast straight tickets.

  11. I have no idea what “G” means but Shaun McCabe is one of the most committed, upstanding, hard working and kind hearted individuals I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I think of him as another son. Thank the lord we have young people who are working hard to change the narrative. Well Shaun!